From clunky spreadsheets to tough-to-maintain shared calendars, why are we managing classroom and virtual classroom training operations, the training back-office, like we’re stuck in the stone age?
While most learning technology innovations until now have focused mainly on the “front-office,” there’s big reason to advocate for innovating training’s “back-office” and emerging from the stone-age. What’s the difference? We can think of learning technologies as a continuum between training professionals who are planning the learning strategy, delivery, and intricately carrying out operational processes, and learners, who are engaging with the content. Of course, this relationship goes both ways.
- Front-office: The front-office is relentlessly focused on the learner’s needs. This sets a high bar for intuitiveness, user-experience, flexibility, and more. Goals for these innovations can include better learner engagement, impact, and retention. Examples of front-office classroom innovations include the blended learning approach, personalized and adaptive learning, microlearning, AI, collaborative platforms, and gamification, or game-based learning.
- Back-office: The training back-office is focused on the training professionals’ needs when managing instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training (ILT / vILT), and requires advanced optimization and business-oriented features to help get the job done. Back-office innovations can improve efficiency by simplifying and automating large-scale planning, optimizing resources and budgets, and significantly reducing the administrative workload. These capabilities have been largely ignored, giving way to why these processes are often painstakingly done manually in spreadsheets, shared calendars, homegrown systems, or not at all.
Here’s an important point: Even as we implement experience-focused initiatives in today’s shift from instructor-led training to virtual instructor-led training, we rarely consider how it will affect operational processes. But, this is a two-way street. Connected classrooms, for example, mean new equipment, venues, and roles to manage; personalized learning journeys require flexibility and visibility for highly adaptable scheduling and more.
Training Management Technology: Emerging From the Stone-Age and into the Modern Era
The learning management system (LMS) is currently one of the most popular tools for managing classroom and virtual instructor-led training. But the LMS was never designed to do so, which drives the use of additional tools such as spreadsheets or home-grown systems, leading to less than desirable, inefficient experiences.
Why exactly can’t an LMS properly manage instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training? ILT and vILT are fundamentally different from e-learning. They involve more complex back-office processes and a wider range of resources. As a result, ILT / vILT tends to be more costly. A successful in-person and virtual instructor-led training program hinges on the achievement of these three core goals:
- Simplify and automate logistics, scheduling, and administration: Justifying time-consuming back-office processes has a very tangible impact on efficiency. Every rescheduled session, hour spent fixing scheduling mistakes, or simply working manually on repetitive tasks that can instead be automated, represent a loss in time and an increase in costs — and could be avoided.
- Increasing utilization of and better managing resources: One reason why instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training tends to be more costly is that the instructors’ time, other resources such as rooms and equipment, and classroom capacities are not properly managed. While resource utilization rates generally hover around 50 or 60 percent, efficient organizations should actually aim for 75 percent.
- Optimizing the budget: Budget optimization is the #1 challenge when managing instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training because ILT / vILT involves a wider range of processes and resources than e-learning. The right technology should help proactively track costs and align the budget with your strategy. The LMS was not designed to achieve these goals. Rather, it was built with the mission of delivering e-learning. E-learning’s main strength is its low cost and flexibility, so why would LMSs develop optimization features?
More technically, the LMS uses the learner as a building block, not the session. This is not optimal for classroom training and virtual instructor-led training, for which the business logic is driven by the training session. An example is cost distribution (i.e., an LMS consolidates cost per learner to define session costs). However, most ILT / vILT costs are fixed regardless of the number of learners (e.g., room reservation, instructor fee, etc.). This is why LMSs struggle to provide accurate cost tracking. It also means that LMSs have a hard time planning future investments for which learners are not yet identified by name.
Modernizing ILT / vILT with a Training Management System
So, how can organizations fully emerge from the training management stone age? A more efficient, modernized approach to training management involves a Training Resource Management System. This type of software helps training professionals optimize their time, allocate resources efficiently, and reduce administrative workload. Instead of spending hours on manual and disconnected solutions, a Training Resource Management System allows your organization to automate and streamline training back-office administrative tasks in one place. It’s time to bring your ILT / vILT out of the stone age and into a faster, more efficient training management future.
Meet Training Orchestra’s Training Management System: Helping Organizations Bring the Training Back-Office into the Future
For over 20 years, we’ve been helping 600+ organizations worldwide manage their instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training operations and over $6B in training budgets. Training Orchestra can help you optimize training operations: session scheduling, resource management, instructor collaboration, vILT, cost tracking and reporting. As a complement to your existing learning technologies, Training Orchestra can replace all XLS spreadsheets and manual tasks, so you can manage training as a business.
Interested in how you can bring your ILT / vILT out of the stone age to improve efficiency and train more with less? Contact us to learn more!